Having been on the road for the last several months and making hotels my “home away from home”, I have given more attention to hotel safety than was previously allotted to my meager mind. When you’re in a new place you want to be ready should an unexpected event like a fire take place, in addition to watching out for your overall safety.
So I thought I’d point out a few safety tips I’ve picked up in my travels.
1. Try to choose a hotel with enclosed hallways and stairways. These are safer IF the hotel has exterior doors with key card access, thus, (theoretically) limiting usage to guests. Hotels with open or exterior hallways and stairways are just asking for any thug walking by to mug you. Better to be mugged by a fellow guest.
2. Try to choose a hotel where the room doors have several locks and a peephole. The best, of course, are the key card type locks as these codes are changed each time a guest checks in, but your door should also have a deadbolt and one of those little restricted access bars that prevent the door from opening more than 2-3 inches. A peephole is essential. This way you can see when the escort service…uh I mean pizza delivery, arrives.
3. When it comes to room location, if I have a choice I always choose a corner room on the top floor. This reduces the chances of being disturbed by neighbors banging their headboards against the wall at 3am (what IS it about hotel rooms that brings out the sex freak in people anyway?) since you’ll only have at the most two rooms on connecting walls and, if you’re lucky and the hotel is laid out like my current one, only one room on a connecting wall. Being on the top floor assures that you won’t hear people walking (stomping) on your ceiling. If your hotel is especially safety-conscious you’ll find that any window on rooms above the second floor will only open approximately 4-6 inches to keep children from falling from a open window…and people like me from throwing themselves out of it when they find they have to work 18 hours the next day.
4. Keep a flashlight beside your bed. I always travel with one of those little Maglite flashlights. They’re small, but have a powerful beam of light. If there is a fire or a power outage, you’ll appreciate having the flashlight to help navigate around unfamiliar surroundings. Plus it’s nice to have the flashlight available in the middle of the night when you’re sure some freaking murderer or rapist has been hiding in your closet for 3 days waiting for you to check in and fall asleep. Trust me.
5. In an emergency, use the stairs, NOT the elevator. Most interior stairways act as a firewall, at least temporarily, in the event of a fire. In any other emergency (power outage, flood, accidental release of Ricin by a guest) elevators are going to stop working. And anyway, it’s much better to be trampled by a panicked crowd in a stairwell than be trapped in an elevator. Even if you are the strong, stoic type like me; if you have whiners or people who start losing it, you have to beat them into silence and that gets messy. Take the stairs.
6. Know the location of the fire alarms and fire extinguishers. Usually these will be in the hallway outside your room. This means that if you have a fire in your room from the stovetop causing the dishrag you left lying on the burner to burst into flame (not that I would know anything about THAT), you’ll need to leave the room and get the fire extinguisher from the hallway. Here’s another helpful hint: be sure to take your room key with you, otherwise you’ll be locked out while your room is on fire (not that I would know anything about THAT). If this happens, now would be the time to put your knowledge of the fire alarm location to use to find it and pull it (not that I would know anything about THAT).
Experts recommend that you also know these locations by heart, (as well as how many steps there are in each floor’s stairway) so that you can navigate to them in the dark or if the area is filled with smoke. For instance, in the hotel I’m currently in, to get to the fire extinguisher I exit my room, turn left, walk 6 steps, turn right, walk 4 steps and the extinguisher is on the wall to my left. If I need to go down the stairwell I exit my room, turn left, walk 30 steps, turn right and the stairwell door should be in front of me. For each floor there are 9 steps down, a landing where I turn left and walk 3 steps, then turn left and take another 9 steps and I’m on the third floor so I have to do that 3 times.
This is probably a bad time to bring up that I sucked at math all throughout school. I think I’m toast.
But in all seriousness and putting my pathetic attempts at humor aside, these are valid hotel safety tips. With any luck I’ll never need to use them and neither will you. But if the unthinkable happens, it’s best to be prepared. Stay safe, be safe.
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